Success stories behind tech's top founders: Citibeats

Harry Gooding, Director, Hays Enterprise Technology Practice - UK and Ireland

Last year we launched a technology series in which we explore the career stories behind some of the world’s most exciting tech founders. Each month, I chat with a different entrepeneur to find out how they got to where they are today, arrived at their business concept, and secured investment to build their business.
 

Using public opinion to understand society's needs

In our event on Tuesday 25th January, I met Ivan Caballero, Founder and CEO of Citibeats.
 
Citibeats were a regional winner in the 2021 Super Connect for Good competition. Using AI to structure and analyse data, Citibeats is able to not only react to society's needs, but then prepare for similar scenarios and make a positive impact in the future.
 
I was fascinated by the potential that this has. Ivan gave me some great examples of the good that his business has done in the past, as well as what his previous experiences as a founder have taught him. He was also open about the life of a founder outside of work, sharing stories that really resonated with me and I'm sure will do the same with others.
 
Watch our conversation in full below:
 
 
Alternatively, if you’d like to watch a specific part, you can use these timestamps to find the relevant question:
 
Why don't you tell us about who you are and what you do? 06:43
I've not met many tech founders who live on a rural farm which they've rebuilt! Ivan discusses his background in marketing and entrepeneurship.
 
What do Citibeats do? 07:52
Ivan explains the work that Citibeats do, combining machine learning and natural language processing to understand millions of voices globally.
 
Who’s your target audience? 09:12
It's clear that Ivan wants to work with organisations that are interested in making a positive social impact. As an example, he discusses how Citibeats have highlighted problems in society and been able to get ahead of any future instances.
 
What do you mean by "listening", "monitoring" and "tracking"? 13:16
With over a million public data sources, Citibeats colloaborate with some big social media platforms. Ivan stresses the ethical nature of this, the privacy regulations involved and the measures he has taken to ensure that any information cannot be misused.
 
Are you seeing examples of this type of business without the clear ethical compass? What are they doing with the technology? 17:53

Citibeats has been approached by political parties and huge organisations – Ivan doesn’t give me any names though! Ultimately, while their intentions might be good, they aren’t bound to meet the ethical standards by which Citibeats abide, so the trust naturally isn't there.

How did Citibeats begin? 21:26
Ivan discusses his past businesses, including collaborations with research teams at universities. He tells me about a movement he co-founded called Social Coin, which had an amazing premise but delivered a somewhat disappointing conclusion.
 
How does your experience compare with those at the organisations you've founded in the past ? 26:46
Ivan tells me a story about a "tipping point" in his life, which it turns out is an understatement! It involves success, failure and finding out about fatherhood – all in the same day!
 
You’ve founded several businesses. What big lessons have you learned along the way? 30:13
As well as the key lessons, Ivan also shares his motivations and methods. He has an unorthodox way of measuring his legacy which I really enjoyed.
 
Do you have a network of other founders in your life? How important are they? 34:58
"Nobody understands a CEO like another CEO". Ivan's conversations with other leaders allow him to share his problems and discuss solutions.
 
You face so many challenges. How do you manage your mental health? 37:40
In Ivan's words, this is his weirdest answer. His “recipe” for mental wellbeing involves keeping active, life in the countryside and taking care of his animals. He knows this doesn’t work for everyone, but he encourages fitness, meditation and a general healthy lifestyle.
 
You talked about “shiny outstanding people” and recruiting for mindset. How do you approach hiring? 41:33
Ivan reveals his thoughts on the recruitment process, ideal candidates and the qualities they bring.
 
When you hire at a startup, you're bringing in a large percentage of your workforce. Does it feel like building a friendship? 45:15
Company culture is huge for Ivan, and he is very clear in his outlook on how he and his workforce can nurture this. He talks personality profiles and what a leader can do.
 

How do you select your partners and where do you find them? 48:39
Given that Citibeats is built around societal improvement, its important that any clients have ethical standards.

Do you invest in marketing as its own function? 50:35
Ivan talks about the "magic" of selling and customers' wants and needs. He also discusses the necessity of automation and how tools such as HubSpot impact the culture (that word again!) of the sales team.

What’s next for Citibeats? 55:13
It's not a case of "what's next?", but actually "where next?", it would seem. Growth and presence in new geographies are on the agenda.

Watch more from our Tech Founders series here.

 

Author

Harry Gooding
Director, Hays National Technology - UK&I

Harry Gooding is part of Hays Technology, working across our Enterprise Technology Practice and supporting new initiatives around skills development. After beginning his career in recruitment, he then worked in VC backed start-ups and scale-ups for six years across two different portfolios before joining Hays.

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